Any increase in global temperature greater than 2ºC, scientists agree, risks triggering feedback loops that cause much greater warming and could render large parts of the planet uninhabitable. For example, further warming would release large quantities of methane – a more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide – from thawing Siberian permafrost, leading to more warming, more thawing, and more methane in the atmosphere. Similarly, warming causes the loss of arctic ice, which means that less of the sun’s heat is reflected back rather than being absorbed by the ocean.
The Paris climate agreement has no mechanism for sanctioning countries that fail to fulfill their pledges. The idea is that such countries will be “named and shamed.” Well before Trump was elected president, however, when the notorious video in which he boasted of groping women became public, it was obvious that he is immune to shame. What, then, can other countries, and individuals, whether in the US or beyond its borders, do about the fact that Trump is jeopardizing the future of us all, for many generations to come?
If the US uses the cheapest available fuels to produce energy, irrespective of the harm that burning those fuels does to others, it is giving its companies an unfair advantage over those elsewhere that are making a good-faith effort to reduce their greenhouse-gas emissions and meet their Paris pledges. That should be enough for the World Trade Organization to allow other countries to erect trade barriers against US goods. If, however, the WTO is not brave enough to take that step, the remedy is in the hands of foreign consumers, who should show the Trump administration what they think of its policies by choosing not to buy American.
A boycott is a blunt instrument that would, regrettably, harm many US workers who did not vote for Trump and are in no way responsible for his policies. But with so much at stake, and such limited means of changing Trump’s policies, what else is there to do?
https://www.project-syndicate.org/co...singer-2017-04 (external - login to view)